(ISBN 1-84435-144-0)





 planet in a remote

 star system, Earth

 Colony Phoenix is

 struggling to survive.

 The colonists, utterly

 dependent on

 transmat technology

 and unable to leave

 the security of their

 Habitat Domes, have

 developed severe

 agoraphobia... not to

 mention an inability

 to deal with



 The TARDIS crew

 arrive on an


 abandoned space

 station in orbit above

 the planet and soon

 discover that they

 and the remaining

 colonists are in the

 gravest danger.


 To survive, the

 Doctor, Peri and

 Erimen must uncover

 the colonys darkest

 secrets before it is

 too late.


 Something inhuman is

 stalking the Colony


 ...and its hungry!


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Three's A crowd

MAY 2005







Slap-bang in the middle of the new series’ run Big Finish release “Three’s A Crowd” – completely and utterly the most traditional Davison-era story that they have ever produced. Russell T Davies’ magnificent reinvention of the show might well have reminded us why we pay our licence fee (other than the avoidance of execution, that is), but with this four-parter Big Finish remind us exactly why we pay them our £140 subscription fee – classic Doctor Who!


One complaint I could make about Colin Brake’s story is that it is slow to start, but I do actually enjoy hearing this regular cast in the TARDIS; especially in cases such as this one where there are issues left to be resolved from the previous story. I always thought that the Peter Davison era had a very distinct ‘family’ feel to it, especially during his first two seasons in the role. As a consequence of having numerous companions, each with their own respective story arcs, often the first episode of a story did feature these soap opera like elements.


“Two’s company. Three’s a crowd.”


Although “Three’s A Crowd” is not the kind of title that would have you racing for the shelf the way some others would, after listening to the play it seems rather inspired. The science-fiction part of the plot focuses on the agoraphobic residents of Phoenix Colony who live their lives of “splendid isolation”, and so for them, three really is a crowd. The more obvious application though is in regard to the fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem. When this story was being written, the future of Big Finish’s licence was uncertain and I suspect this story might have been a possible swansong for Erimem. After her ordeal in “The Roof of the World,” she is beginning to question whether or not this life really is for her…


The supporting cast - the humans, at least - are absolutely superb in this story. Although Big Finish’s standard is generally high, I find it hard to recall a story with so many memorable characters. Deborah Watling returns to Doctor Who in the guise of Auntie, the leader of Phoenix Colony, a role in which she truly excels. For the first two episodes we are led to believe that Auntie is some sort of dystopian tyrant, though as the story progresses and the Khelllian menace is revealed she becomes a much more sympathetic character. I also liked Charles Pemberton as her amusing robotic Butler; he struck me as the antithesis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Marvin - a happy servant, whose jolly disposition never changes whether he is arresting the Doctor, being blown to pieces or making a cup of tea!


The inhabitants of the colony are equally fascinating – Laroq, the everyman; Vidler, the conspiracy theorist who gets proven right; Bellip, the weak and feeble victim who refuses to accept what is happening. I especially enjoyed the scenes between Bellip and Peri – it made a nice change to have someone whinge at Peri! Actually that is a little harsh, because to be fair in these Big Finish adventures between “Planet of Fire” and “The Caves of Androzani” Peri has been absolutely superb. Even in the poorer stories like “Red Dawn” and “Nekromanteia”, Peri has been far more interesting, funnier, and frankly more likeable than she ever was on television.


Now earlier in this review I said that this story was completely and utterly traditional, and thus there be monsters. Khelllians. Giant, militaristic lizards that eat people. Brake will not win

any prizes for imaginative baddies, but they are there and they work. The cliffhanger at the end of Part Two is textbook Doctor Who, even if the clunky dialogue leaves a lot to be desired!


“What is that? It looks like a giant lizard, but humanoid

and wearing an army uniform! It’s licking its lips!”


Well… it is not quite that bad but you get the idea!


Nevertheless, the human, psychological side of this story combines wonderfully with the monster romp to create a refreshingly average slice of 1980s Doctor Who. Moreover, thankfully Big Finish’s licence was renewed and so at the end of the story Erimem turns down the Doctor’s suggestion of becoming the new leader of Phoenix Colony, and instead continues her travels with the Doctor and Peri. What is it they say? “Two’s company. Three’s a crew!”


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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